There are 15 different species of hedgehog, all of which originate from Asia, Africa and Europe, although some species have been introduced to other parts of the world, such as New Zealand. Well known for their coats of sharp, stiff spines, these creatures spend a lot of their time foraging for food.
Time and Place
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, so they do all their hunting during the nighttime. They're foragers who generally look for their food either in hedgerows or in other types of undergrowth, depending on the species and where they live. Once they come across something that equals dinner, they simply grab it in their mouths and eat it. Hedgehogs make a loud snuffling noise while they're searching for food, not dissimilar to a pig's grunt, which is how they got their name.
Hedgehogs are well adapted to hunting for their food in the dark. Although they don't have especially good eyesight, they don't need it to find their prey because they have exceptional hearing and a great sense of smell. The location of their noses on the end of a long snout helps these creatures to forage for food in low light and among the undergrowth.
On average, hedgehogs have quite a varied diet, although it varies according to the species of hedgehog and what food is available where they live. Primarily insectivores, they will eat any type of insect they come across. They've even been known to attack wasps and bees, whose stings seem to have no effect on them. They've often been known as gardeners' friends, as they happily eat slugs and snails, which are common garden pests. Some species will also eat lizards, snakes, birds and mice.
Hibernation and Aestivation
Although hedgehogs in temperate climates stay awake all year, those in especially hot or cold climates go through periods of stasis, during which they don't hunt for prey or even eat at all. In colder climates, they hibernate during the winter months, when food would be scarce. In hot climates, such as desert areas, they aestivate during the hottest months, when there would be little food or water. Before going into these periods of stasis, they must eat as much as possible so they have large enough fat reserves to survive.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images